Click the button below to read the rest of the series on hemp!
If you've been around any amount of time you will know I am no stranger to grief. You can click here or here to jump down the rabbit hole that is my story, but I'll give a small glimpse for those of you who may be new - it all ties into why I decided Hemp might be something that would help.
Loss #1 (2013)
In the fall of 2013 I lost my best friend (my mama) to a very aggressive and rare cervical cancer. She died just six months after her stage 1b2 diagnosis and we were all absolutely devastated. She was the glue that held our family together, she had a deep-rooted love for the poor + homeless, and she was just two months shy of fifty. The weeks and months, and years really, following that loss propelled me into a dark, dark, space. My marriage crumbled, my relationships broke, my soul was full of anger and hate. All that was once good, was gone.
I had already been struggling with anxiety and some depression the majority of my life - so this loss did me no good. My dad was battling his own demons of addiction, and I felt in many ways I lost them both that chilly day in October.
Fast forward a few years, I felt as though I was finally getting somewhere in my grief. I'd been seeing a therapist off and on, and was working through some deep embedded issues from my childhood. My siblings and I were making better attempts to see one another more (we are spread all over the country), and my dad and I had begun to find a new relationship based on endless grace and so much forgiveness.
Loss #2 (2017)
I was sipping my morning coffee when I got the call. It was a bright February morning, just four days after his 29th birthday, and my brother was dead. An accidental overdose of Fentanyl (he thought it was Heroin) took him instantly. Life came to a sudden and crashing halt. My sisters and I rallied, heading back east to deal with all the things our father couldn't, and I knew in my heart, the darkness would return. It did, in a different and vicious way.
His loss felt harder than losing my mom, though I'm not totally sure why. Perhaps the tragedy of his young age, the ache of his addiction, the absence of his sweet and hilarious spirit. I had been writing about addiction prior to Joel's passing, but suddenly became hungrily obsessed with breaking the stigma. I felt it was my life's mission to tell the world addicts are just like the rest of us, just a bit more prickly to hug. I soon began EMDR with my therapist, and slowly put the pieces of a broken life back together.
That fall my sister got married beneath the canopy of our grandparent's trees. The whole was gaping, where our mom and brother should have been, but our dad was there. He was sad, quiet, but he was there. We were re-building life again, fragile and broken, but building none the less.
Loss #3 (2017)
Just two weeks after the wedding, around the 4th anniversary of our mother's death, we got another call (I've since had to change the ringer of my phone, PTSD triggers are the worst). Our dad was in the ICU and on life support. As his Power of Attorney, and after the blatant urging of his doctor, I got the next flight I could and met my sister for a future yet again, unknown. We didn't know what we were walking into, but we did it side by side, as we have so many times before.
Seven days that felt like an eternity we spent by his side. The sound of classic rock filled the room, we covered his walls with photographs, and shared some of the hardest words we've had to speak, to a man who had given us the best and worst years of our lives. Our dad was not getting better, his condition (an infection that ravaged his body) was declining, and it came to a decision no person wants to, or should ever have to make.
On a clear day in early November, my sister and I awoke, dressed, and headed to the 6th floor at OSU to walk our daddy into Heaven. Those days are a blur and they're my most vivid nightmares. When I arrived home after two weeks away, I did something I'd not been able to do thus far: I stepped OVER grief, and avoided as best I could.
I knew in my heart it was not the wise way to approach it, but I decided to focus on the holidays, my kids, and a new business venture. Each day I questioned it, and resigned to the fact that nope, I wasn't ready to go back to the dark place again. My therapist called, emailed, reached out, and I avoided him. I knew seeing him again would throw me headlong into it all, and I frankly, refused.
Early spring of this year, the inevitable happened, as I knew it would, and the darkness came. And it came hard. I returned from a trip to see my sister in Texas - a visit filled with so much good, and yet, a realization that we didn't know how to be sisters away from trauma. We were used to rushing to the hospital for rounds, conference rooms at funeral homes, writing eulogies and going through the remaining items of three people's entire lives. Being together, by choice, proved to be a challenge. It was a good and much needed time together, but I returned home and could fight it no longer.
I had been on a low dose of medication for the better part of the year, but I was a wreck (and did not want to up my Rx). I gave in, and headed back into therapy. Soon after I finally gave my friend Tristian a call. She had been using Hemp for a while with such amazing results, and I was desperate for relief.
How I was feeling
I poured my heart out to this dear friend of mine, sharing how bad my anxiety had gotten. I felt as though every nerve ending in my body was shot, from the tips of my fingers to the bottom of my feet. Noises shook me to my core - the slam of a cabinet, the scream of a child, the accidental dropping of something heavy. It's as if I was in constant fight or flight. And yet, I was doing neither any fighting or flighting. I was stuck, neck deep, in the worst quick sand possible: avoided grief.
I couldn't concentrate or stay focused, I struggled to find joy. All I wanted to do was sleep. My social anxiety mixed with being a Type 4 on the Enneagram, and a Highly Sensitive Person, left me not wanting to see anyone - even those I love dearly. I felt broken, jarred, cracked, shattered. Tristian encouraged me and she educated me on the amazing ways Hemp could support me and I said okay, let's do it. I would commit.
Some people are more sensitive to the properties and feel a sense of calm right away, I am not one of those people, but I knew going into this that it could take time. I took 1 pump twice a day and about a week in my husband mentioned that I seemed more balanced, less tense. So often we can't feel a shift, but when those around us feel it? You really know something's changing. I was so thrilled to hear him say that and began to notice that noises weren't bothering me as much, it's almost like I felt a softening. Where before every day was akin to bone grinding on bone, I started to feel like there was a gentleness to how I felt, instead of bone on bone, new joints were forming.
This was just, so very, huge.
As luck would have it, I ran out of Hemp. I hadn't been paying attention to the amount left in the bottle, (even though I knew there are 100 pumps in a bottle) - I wasn't thinking about the fact that after having my eyes read through Iridology (confirming a very weak nervous system among many other things this plant would support) I upped the amount I was taking to 2 pumps 3/day. I wasn't too worried about running out, but really was curious if I'd feel a shift back to where I was pre-Hemp.
As gradual as it began to help, it did something similar when I ran out. Nearly a week after my husband and I were driving, and I had a really tough day. I was tensing up on the steering wheel, breathing heavily, generally feeling pretty all over the place. "Babe?" he asked. "Any more of that Hemp coming?" I whipped my head towards him and snapped, "Why? Is it that bad?" and he sort of laughed - a nervous laugh.
It had been bad. I felt it. And so did he.
If I wasn't a believer before, I certainly was at that point. A new bottle arrived shortly and I decided I wouldn't run out again. Knowing how much I feel the change when I'm consistently using Hemp, blows my mind to think of all the good it's doing that I can't feel. Wellness is so very much a part of my focus anymore - I've lost too many people, and growing old to see my babies have babies, and to feel alive and joyful for the lot of it? Goals. So many goals.
Next up in the series Hemp Helps, I chat about what Hemp is. Check it out!